By Jeffery Armstrong
I saw that the NFL personally fined Detroit Lions' President and CEO Matt Millen $200,000 for not doing his part to interview minority candidates for the Lions' head coaching job that now belongs to Steve Mariucci, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Lions say they wanted to interview several African-American coaching candidates, but the candidates turned Detroit down, figuring the job was automatically going to Mariucci.
And of course, the candidates were right. The job was automatically Mariucci's and the candidates would've been token interviews and that's not good. I was unknowingly on a token interview years ago and when I found that out from the company's Human Resources Coordinator (I still communicate with her to this day), I wasn't pleased at all. I really thought I had a legitimate shot at the position, but the company had already decided to promote from within. It really stings to know you have the skills for a position and you're only interviewed because it's the law.
So I definitely know the candidates did the right thing by turning Detroit down. In Millen's case, maybe he ought to turn around and fine whoever told the media that Detroit was really interested in Mariucci. If he or she would've kept that info on the "down-low," Detroit would've interviewed minority and majority candidates like it was business as usual, before settling with Mariucci. And who knows? The minority candidates might not have struck up a relationship with the Lions' HR Coordinator.
The organization that really needs to be fined is the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Can you believe that none of those schools in the SEC have ever hired an African-American head football coach? More than 300 head football coaches have come and gone and none have been Black or even Hispanic.
I figure the SEC should change its name to the Simply Exclusive Conference, a league where no minority stands a chance to become head football coach. This way, the conference can keep its initials and let minorities know what's really going on at the same time; there would be no surprises and no disappointments.
It's amazing that out of all the Black players that have toiled for such SEC schools as Georgia, Florida, Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee, there's not one who could've been hired as head football coach. The SEC isn't the only conference to blame in this issue. The fact that there are only four Black head coaches in Division 1-A college football is atrocious and shows that other conferences need to do better.
At least the University of Alabama (an SEC school) showed some interest in Sylvester Croom, the former Alabama player and current NFL assistant coach who is Black. But I wasn't shocked when Mike Shula was hired. I guess ?Bama just wasn't ready to have a Black man lead them at this point and time.
Well, if Notre Dame can hire a Black man to coach its football team, maybe one day an SEC school will do the same. Hopefully, it will be in my lifetime.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.